I will admit before starting that I have not posted anything since the challenge in March. I have started to create a writing habit this summer and this will be my first post.
I sat sipping a glass of wine with my friend who is a retired teacher and now a published poet. Ahhh! Summer. We were excited to catch up and talk about our favorite topic–writing. Kris, I learned during our dinner, schedules her writing time to make sure it happens each day. I described how I loved the Slice of Life challenge in March but how hard it was to write after a day of teaching. I also admitted, it was such a jolt to find how much I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment when I was done posting. She encouraged me to start writing again this summer and not to wait until I retired to begin, like she did. She also gave me a kick in the pants by telling me I did not want to be one of those writing teachers who don’t write. I felt my stomach turn and it wasn’t from dinner. I know she was right.
We continued our conversation and I pushed her to share how she did it. Question after question she answered for me. Where do you write? How long do you write? What does your writer’s notebook look like? How do you separate your thoughts and musings from the pieces you decide to write? We had settled our tab but acknowledged the server affirmatively when asked if we might like another glass of wine.
Kris shared and I began to see how she worked. The first thing she did was empty her head on the page with things she planned to do that day, reminders needing to be taken care of, and things she was thinking about. She included bits of conversations, things she had seen…. The last bit was sounding familiar to me. I liked the idea of emptying my head right there and giving myself permission to do so before jumping into a piece of writing. When Kris finds herself taking off with a piece of writing she notes it in the margin and writes. She also keeps a grid of in the back of her notebook to collect words she wants to think about, use, or remember. The grid seems to work better for her than a list as she is able to take more notice of them individually and also to see possible relationships among words. This also gives her writing ideas.
I have always written for my first graders but not always for myself. The move to third grade next year has given my pause to think about how this will be different. I feel third graders need to see how I write not how I write for them. Kris and I talked about the importance of this and also the importance of sharing my writing struggles. I am also going to do some reading over the summer about writer’s notebooks as opposed to writing in small booklets in first grade. So, I begin writing in my my notebook. I have all summer to create space my writing life.
I recently came across some notes I took during a presentation by Jeff Anderson. A quote jumped out at me. “Writing is creating a place for words to happen.” I think that’s just what I will do.